Never Underestimate the Power of a Teapot

Teapot as Art

In the Which One Doesn’t Belong game, it’s pretty obvious which teapot here is not exactly a thing of beauty.

teapot montage

But they all can be used to make tea. And the very act of making tea—not to mention drinking tea—reduces stress.

Teapot as Calming Agent 

Researchers Cross and Michaels (2009) assert that

the ritual of making and consuming tea does make an important contribution to the overall effect of mediating stress. . . . [D]uring periods of stress tea’s reputation for inducing calm extends beyond the effects of its physical properties on our bodies and brains. The symbolic dimensions of tea . . . perform a complex socio-psychological function.

light fixtureTeapot as Tchotchke

But if we go beyond the intended use of teapots, we find all sorts of things.

Charming teapot birdhouses, teapot decorations, teapot light fixtures abound.

And Teapot as Scientific Instrument

Back in the 1960s—before we knew much about the role of CFCs in our environment—scientist James Lovelock developed a detector to measure atmospheric CFC.

To continue his research, Lovelock embarked on an expedition aboard the RRS Shackleton in 1972. However, he soon realized that the seawater pumped in by the ship for research purposes was too contaminated for his purposes.

So, Lovelock tried scooping up seawater using a bucket tied to a rope, but the ship was moving too fast and he was in danger of being pulled overboard. In his search for something more suitable, he ended up with tea ware!

As Walker (2007:141) relates:

an old aluminum teapot, now retired from active duty, would be just the thing. From then onward Lovelock cheerfully used this teapot to scoop up his daily water samples.

And these samples showed that CFCs were present everywhere, laying the groundwork for later work by S. Rowland and M. Molina that linked ozone depletion and CFCs.

Even a Lowly Teapot: Agent of Power

While the utilitarian teapot pictured above may not be considered beautiful by most, it can certainly:

  • delight
  • calm
  • help solve our world’s problems in unexpected ways
  • make a pot of tea, which itself delights, calms, and helps solves problems in unexpected ways

Cross, M. and R. Michaels. “The Social Psychological Effects of Tea Consumption on Stress.” 2009.

Walker, G. An Ocean of Air, Orlando, FL: Harcourt. 2007. 


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